palestine

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Soldiers and Border police

photo courtesy of The Palestine Solidarity Project

If I were a cartoonist I’d depict Santa trying to get his sleigh over the wall that cuts off the West Bank from Israel, or perhaps I’d do one of Santa trying to break the siege on Gaza by attempting to deliver a sleigh-full of inadmissible toys to Gaza’s children. Either way, one can only imagine a bloody end to big elf’s Yuletide venture to the Holy Land.

It can’t be pure coincidence that the Israeli government unleashes some of its worst violence on the captive populations of Gaza and the West Bank during the Christmas season. Operation Cast Lead began on December 27. This Christmas there have been a series of bloody incidents:

  • Scores of Bedouin refugees, including 32 children, were made homeless after a series of housing demolitions in the West Bank that the UNRWA says is a “violation of international law” (see here).
  • IDF warplanes and tanks unleashed hell on Gaza, killing a number of civilians including a 3 year-old girl. They claim that they were targeting “terror sites” after an Israeli workman had been shot by a sniper while repairing the fence that keeps the Gazan people captive (see here).
  • On Christmas Eve IDF soldiers raided the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem – intimidating and harassing the beleaguered camp population (see here).

I guess it makes sense that the IDF increases its activity at times when it knows that its US allies are on holidays and otherwise busy with family and partying. Even so, there’s an additional incentive in 2013 for stirring up more trouble at this point in time – the so-called ‘peace talks’.

Reports are coming in that, contrary to all expectations, there may be real signs of hope emerging from John Kerry’s latest rounds of talks. Netanyahu has no intention, of course, of allowing a sovereign Palestinian state to come into existence, but maintaining the illusion that he does support Palestinian independence is a vital element in the great charade.

If a peace deal should start to look inevitable, as it has on more than one occasion already, a spanner will need to be thrown into the works from somewhere – a lead negotiator will have to be disposed of (eg. Arafat) or an incident will take place that will ‘force’ the Israelis to abandon all friendly discussion.

Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, prays for peace: 

“Oh Holy Child, who experienced the flight into Egypt after the threat from Herod, who two thousand years ago killed the children of Bethlehem, have mercy on our children, and all the world’s children.  Have mercy on prisoners, on the poor, the marginalized, and the most vulnerable among us.” 

(read Twal’s complete Christmas homily here)

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This is a press release from ‘Progressive Christian Voice’ (Australia). Yes, there is an alternative Australian Christian perspective to that offered by the ‘Australian Christian Lobby’ (ACL).

I find it frankly refreshing to see the church speaking out on the situation in Palestine and not being restricted to issues of family and sexuality.

Father Dave

Bishop Peter Catt - founder of 'Progressive Christian Voice' (Australia)

Bishop Peter Catt – founder of ‘Progressive Christian Voice’ (Australia)

A Progressive Christian Voice Urges the Australian Government to Abandon its Support for the Illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Australian media reported on Monday, 25 November, 2013, that Australia’s newly elected government, without any public discussion of its policy, was “giving tacit approval to controversial activities including the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories”. [1]

According to The Jerusalem Post [2] the Australian ambassador to Israel, David Sharma said that Canberra does not want to single out Israel for condemnation in international forums. As regards the aspect of singling out of Israel, international forums have been prepared to condemn other countries such as Syria, North Korea.

As regards any singling out of Israel, what is singular about Israel is that no country in the current international community has continued the military occupation of foreign territory for 46 years.

Australian media reports noted, “many within the international community regard the expansion of Israeli settlements as an act of hostility towards Palestinians, hampering the likelihood of peace”. [3]

As a letter writer in The Sydney Morning Herald [2] noted, there is a contradiction in the Australian government’s position. That government asserts that it supports a two state solution. Yet it tacitly condones settlement construction which threatens to destroy any hope of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

During a speech at the United Nations Security Council’s Open Debate on the Middle East on the 16 October, 2012, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Susan Rice emphasized that the U.S. “does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity, and will continue to oppose any efforts to legalize outposts.” [4]

A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc  believes that Australia’s action, therefore, raises a number of valid questions:

1.Which of the two contradictory policies noted above does the Australian government actually endorse – a two state solution or support for illegal Jewish settlements? The Australian Foreign Minister, Julia Bishop, has stated hat “the (Australian) government’s concern (was that) Middle East resolutions should be balanced”. How does the government, then, balance these two contradictory positions?

2.What values influences the Australian government to give tacit approval for the building of more illegal settlements on Palestinian territory?

3. Does the Australian government oppose the American government’s view when the latter contends that continued settlement activity is illegal?

_____________________________________________________________________________________

1.  Jonathan Swan, “Abbott shifts UN position to back Israeli setllements” The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, November 25, 2013, p.9.

2.   Herb Keinon, “Australia says it won’t mechanically vote against settlements in UN” The Jerusalem Post 11/25/2013.

3.  SMH, Tuesday, November 26, 2013, p.16.

4. The Jewish Week –  New York 10/16/12 _____________________________________________________________________________________

For more information contact either:

Rev’d Dr Peter Catt – President of  A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc (Email:   pcatt AT stjohnscathedral.com….au) or

Rev’d Dr Ray Barraclough – Secretary of A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc at  (Email:  dorray AT westnet.com….au)

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It appears that the Abbot government has slyly changed Australia’s policy regarding Israel-Palestine without making any mention of it to the Australian public!

Two weeks ago Australia abstained from voting on two resolutions at the UN General Assembly – one condemning the expansion of Jewish settlements and another calling for the Geneva Convention to apply in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Just in case there was any doubt about the new position, yesterday Australia voted “NO” to a resolution declaring 2014 the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”.

If you read the details contained in the resolution (below) there is nothing in them that is remotely anti-Israel. Even so, the usual culprits objected:

  • Israel, the United States and Canada (the big three)
  • Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau (the three US protectorates) and …
  • Australia!

This effectively reverses the stance of the previous Australian government. Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, was right in calling this a “shame”. Julia Bishop had the gaul to refer to the new policy as more “balanced”!

From a purely mathematical point of view – 110 votes in favour and only 7 against – I suppose Australia is contributing to more balance, in a sense, until you realise that the rest of the world has good reason to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. They are victims of the longest military occupation in human history!

I personally cannot reconcile how the new Australian Prime Minister can openly call himself a Christian and yet taken such an inhuman stance on both refugees and the suffering people of Palestine. Perhaps I’m missing something?

Father Dave

Tony Abbott - no friend of Palestine

Tony Abbott – no friend of Palestine

source: www.bernama.com…

UN Declares 2014 As International Year Of Solidarity With Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 27 (Bernama) — The 68th General Assembly has adopted a resolution declaring 2014 as “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”, Xinhua news agency reported.Co-sponsored by more than 30 countries, the resolution received 110 votes in favour, seven against and 56 abstained earlier in the day as the assembly wrapped up discussions on the Palestinian question which began Monday.Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau and the United States voted “no.”

The resolution called for all efforts to promote the realisation of the inalienable rights of Palestinians including their right to self-determination, support the Middle East peace process for the achievement of a two-state solution and the just resolution of all final status issues, and to mobilise international support for and assistance to Palestinians.

The resolution also affirmed the general assembly’s support for the Middle East peace process on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States and a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Among others things, it welcomed the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on July 29 aimed at resolving all core final status issues and concluding a final peace agreement within the agreed time frame of nine months.

 

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Pope Francis visiting Ramallah – now that would be a step in the right direction, and a far more promising development for Palestine than any number of farcical peace talks.

The reality is that the Israeli government is entirely comfortable with the status quo. Netanyahu has no reason to seriously consider any state for the Palestinian people. Keeping up appearances as a peace maker is important of course, but nothing substantial is going to happen until real pressure is placed on the Israeli government from outside of Israel’s borders, and the Pope is in precisely the right position to exert the necessary leverage!

Of course the Vatican has a very poor history when it comes to siding with the oppressed and the vulnerable. Even so, all he early indicators suggest that this new Pope may be the change that the church has been waiting for!

Who knows? If Pope Francis can get as far as Ramallah, perhaps he’ll venture into Gaza?!

Father Dave

Pope Francis

source: www.catholicnews.com…

Palestinian president hopes to use pen from pope to sign peace treaty

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis gave Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a fancy pen as a gift, and Abbas told the pope, “I hope to sign the peace agreement with Israel with this pen.”

Pope Francis responded with his hope that the agreement would be reached “soon, soon.”

The exchange took place Oct. 17 in the papal library after the pope and Palestinian president had spent almost half an hour meeting privately.

Abbas had given the pope a Bible and a framed scene of Bethlehem, West Bank. The pope gave Abbas a framed scene of the Vatican along with the pen, “because you obviously have many things to sign,” which is when Abbas spoke about his hopes to sign a peace treaty.

A Vatican statement about Abbas’ meeting with the pope and a later meeting with the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, said, “The reinstatement of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians” was a topic in both conversations.

“The parties expressed their hope that this process may bear fruit and enable a just and lasting solution to be found to the conflict,” it said. “Hope was expressed that the parties to the conflict will make courageous and determined decisions in order to promote peace” and that the international community would support their efforts. The U.S.-mediated talks began in July.

The Vatican statement did not mention Pope Francis’ possible trip to the Holy Land, although when Abbas greeted Archbishop Mamberti he told him that he had invited the pope to visit. Abbas’ delegation also included the mayor of Bethlehem, which likely would be on the itinerary of a papal trip.

In April, Israeli President Shimon Peres also invited the pope, and Israeli media have been reporting that a papal visit is expected in the spring. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced Oct. 16 that the prime minister would meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome Oct. 23 and meet the pope during the same trip.

The Vatican statement on Abbas’ meetings said the pope and Palestinian leader also discussed the ongoing war in Syria and expressed their hopes that “dialogue and reconciliation may supplant the logic of violence as soon as possible.”

The two also discussed the work underway on a Vatican-Palestinian agreement regulating “several essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine,” as well as the situation of Christian communities in the Palestinian territories and the contributions Christians make to society throughout the Middle East.

if you can’t view this video, click here.

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I suppose this should come as no surprise. Did anyone really believe that Kerry was an honest broker?

 

John Kerry

John Kerry

source: www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/robert-fisk-any-other-statesman-who-negotiated-peace-like-john-kerry-would-be-treated-as-a-thief-8760028.html…

Robert Fisk: Any other ‘statesman’ who negotiated peace like John Kerry would be treated as a thief

Kerry isn’t on their side. He’s going all out for ‘peace’ on Israeli  government terms

Has John Kerry no shame? First he cuddles up to both Palestinians and Israelis and announces the renewal of a “peace process” which the Palestinians don’t trust and the Israelis don’t want. Then Israel announces that it will build 1,200 new homes for Jews – and Jews only – on occupied Palestinian land. And now Kerry tells the Palestinians – the weak and occupied Palestinians – that they are running out of time if they want a state of their own.

Any other “statesman” involved in any other dispute who told an occupied people that if they didn’t make peace their occupiers would steal even more of their land, would be regarded as an outcast, a fellow thief, a potential criminal. But no. John Kerry announces that illegal Jewish colonies – or “settlements” as he likes to call them, along with the world’s Israel-compliant press – are “illegitimate”. I think he meant internationally “illegal”. But it doesn’t matter. In the first 10 years of the Oslo “process”, the number of Israelis living on stolen Palestinian land doubled to 400,000. No wonder Kerry muttered that Israel’s latest theft announcement was “to some degree [sic] expected”.

You bet it was. Israel has been running rings around cowardly US administrations for decades, ignoring Washington’s squirming embarrassment every time it went for another land grab on someone else’s property. The Oslo accords, remember, envisioned a five-year period in which Israelis and Palestinians would refrain from taking “any unilateral steps that would prejudice the outcome of the negotiations”. Israel simply ignored this. As it still does. And what does Kerry advise the Palestinians? That they should not “react adversely”!

This is preposterous. Kerry must know – as the UN and the EU know – that there is not the slightest chance of “Palestine” existing as a state because the Israelis have already stolen too much land on the West Bank. Anyone who drives around the occupied territories realises at once (unless they are politically blind) that there is as much chance of building a state in the West Bank – whose map of colonies and non-colonised districts looks like the smashed windscreen of a car – as there is waiting for the return of the Ottoman Empire.

read the rest of Fisky’s article here